Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    August 28, 2013 8:30pm-9:01pm PDT

8:30 pm
it is a responsibility, whether we are legally required or not but i think that it is our responsibility as a commission to vote on it and to know, to answer the court. >> commissioner walker? >> i read the grand jury report, we have had that longer and we just got the draft, more recently, and i want it on record, just to say that i really appreciate the work and the hours and the interviews that the grand jury did in presenting their position on some of the things that have been perpetual issues with our department, this is not, our first rodeo with the grand jury either. so, what i will say is that they in that grand jury, they acknowledge that we are moving in the right direction. and i think that as with many of us on the commission, the
8:31 pm
pace of the changes that need to happen is slow sometimes. but, i feel like as a commissioner, i embrace, almost entirety, the commission, the grand jury, recommendations and positions, because it basically says that we are on the right track and we need the time from the specific department in order for me to sign on and i do think that we do have an opportunity with a couple of meetings that we are intended to have specifically, around interviews, that we could actually have some time to incorporate any recommendations that come from the commissioners to the department to add, or amend.
8:32 pm
and either on september fifth or september 10th. prior to the deadline, i want to thank the department for the work that they are doing in the grand jury for pushing this along, and i know that there are grand jury members here who might want to say something to us. >> could we have the comments by the fifth. >> we could look at the schedule that we could look at the schedule and i see no reason why we could not accommodate that. >> with the commissioners with
8:33 pm
the goals for have the proofreaders and if you have comments, is it okay to send them directly to sonya, and she will send them to you. >> is there any more discussion there, before the public comment. >> i wonder if we could hear from the grand jury if there is anything to address in the public as part of this agenda item. >> i have no objection to that. >> no. >> susan tucker and (inaudible) as the forewoman and i would like to read the statement and the point of the clarification about the process of response. >> and i just make this one point, first and it is kind of a legal point, but in our findings and recommendations, and response required, and i am sure that you will get excellent counsel from john
8:34 pm
here. but, if some of the responses required are responses from both the bic and the department because obviously you wear two separate hats and although you may choose to file joint responses, that is not required and in some situations with respect to, for example, the recommendation one, and only the bic is required to respond. and so, it seems that, having the department respond for you, might not be you know, in your best interest, and so, the law requires that you agree in part solely, however, you choose to respond, and so, it is, it varies from recommendation and finding to recommendation and finding to each of these as whether the bic responds or whether the department responds.
8:35 pm
>> the bic and the department are not identical. >> i want to thank you from hearing from directly from the former grand jury and the committee members that drafted a report that we think is appropriately titled building a better future at the department of building inspection. let me say that a committee was very committed to an approach that made a positive contribution to a department in the city and we were very impressed with that business process, reengineering report which has been referenced or provided and still does, an excellent road map for the department and we were also impressed by the many, dedicated individuals that we met during our interviews. we had only one year to do our work and our charge under the code is to be the eyes and the
8:36 pm
ears of the citizenry, to be a watch dog, to examine the county departments to see if they are operating efficiently and effectively. we interviewed over 50 people and a number of them multiple times and we reviewed documents many, many times taller than i am. >> i believe that our analysis, methodology is solid. as set forth in the report and has been heard today, the themes that we have been heard was the need for transparency and efficiency and leadership. and we believe that the citizens of san francisco want a department with those qualities, we believe, and we
8:37 pm
note that the current acting director has been acting director for more than a year, putting him in a genuinely difficult position to implement needed changes with his long term tenure in question. in addition, two of the deputy directors are still acting, and we are obviously aware as you are, of the increasing demands on the department, in the light of the building boom. we have seen the press, of course, and we can understand that the department might be defensive. and there is no question that much progress has been made since the dark days of 2006 and 8 and 9 recession. we try to make a point of that. however, we believe that our report is spot on in some key areas that indeed we found general agreement with our findings. and our recommendations flowed directly from our findings. so let me just make a few examples. it must be clear, to this commission, and it is your
8:38 pm
responsibility to address this to get stable, professional, independent, leadership in place, at the helm. and it is critical for such an over burdened department undergoing this great technological change. why has it taken so long? when can a permanent director be in place? there is a big backlog of unresolved building violations. and you, saw the press about 308 turk regarding these. and the district attorney office has even formed a special multidepartment committee. something in the process is broken and stuck and there is something that needs to be fixed and abatement appeals board this morning heard two sets of notice of violations dating to 2009. and so, we also noted all of the tao*uls tools available have not been used, enforcement
8:39 pm
has not been consistent and fees and costs consistently collected. this sends a dangerous message, and could smack of favoritism or that those who could afford the attorneys can get better treatment than those who can't. >> the excellent technology will only provide its benefits which are many, if the people are fully trained and the system is fully embraced by management. all management. and what where we sympathize, the department has been so busy keeping its head above water, that a pension and it has necessarily fallen by the way side with the volume of work that the department is handlinging, this is and continues to have long term consequences with the surpluses that the department is running you have the opportunity to address these issues that the department could not before.
8:40 pm
there is the notice of violations that we studied and we intentionally studied a group from several years ago so that there would be an opportunity to have been resolved. however, even after three or four years and eleven percent were still opened. and you have heard, through here today and an uncollected fees were in the millions of dollars and those two this morning, were presumably part of the sampling that we studied and they are still bugging you, and we noted millions of dollars in uncollected fees, it would be interesting to see, what percentages of these notice of violations are open in both subsequent and prior years. we picked the sampling that we felt was reasonable. in closing, we ask the commission, which sets the policy for the department, to keep an open mind, that you play an important role and share responsibility for the department and building a better future for it. and are there any questions?
8:41 pm
of the former grand jury? >> i see none, and thank you for your presentation. >> is there any public comment on this? >> yeah. >> public comment? >> anyone can speak for up to three minutes. >> hi, good morning, commissioners. so i will introduce myself, my name is ben and i am with the out reach programs, and that is in the housing clinic and our main area is the tender loin and south of market and i am here today and i just wanted to kind of just talk a little bit about what was mentioned in the
8:42 pm
grand jury point and correct the errors. i know that it state $that the first floor was a commercial restaurant. i wanted to make that and that is actually a two story apartment building, and the ground floor is not a commercial restaurant. and i think that one of the things mentioned was that the reason why is that the tenants in that building actually went to the owner's restaurant to protest, the conditions that the tenants are living and i think that was, confusion that they think is the first was a restaurant. i can just use the do8 as a
8:43 pm
example. of course, the chart, it is all 20 units and mainly tenant and mono spanish speaking family and me, i personally looked really closely with each and every tenant in the apartment and, and to kind of be able to see and identify the conditions, and obviously three years ago when i took over and came into this position. i heard about the charts and how bad the conditions but of course we cannot force the tenants to put down some... (inaudible) but it is up to the tenants if they wanted to get something done, then we will work with them. i think that in december, the tenants had enough and they were going through so much, horrible living conditions and they actually came to the office and asked us for help and so we were able to work with the tenant and gave the opportunity to respond in repairs and they can do anything and that is where we stepped in and if it was not
8:44 pm
for the inspector who actually worked with me to go into every apartment to see whether the issues are, you know, and it was to deal with today was so, it would be a horrible condition. and next speaker. >> (inaudible) who set this cause, and we are the regional bay area, grass roots. and over 1,000 cases annually. and we have been a partner through the code, enforcement out reach program, and so we are off with the housing inspection services and some of us are here today, but they are
8:45 pm
also partners of that collaborativive. for quite some time now, and the counselors take on the cases that will deal with a large variety of tenant issues and the repairs is one of the top three, and and the counselors are able to work directly with the housing inspect ors to insure that the tenant. and they holds them accountable the tenant and make sure that the residentses are living in the habit able conditions. it is successful and there is nothing. the enforcement mechanism, and so the council was able to call the inspectors and find out how the repairs are going and know if there are additional steps to repair the tenants for like the director's hearing, and many of the tenants when they
8:46 pm
come into the office, they don't know about dbi and or afraid to access the services that could potentially lead to the further problems with the landlord and also to educate them through the ability and also through the dbi process and which leads to more people standing up to their right for ha bitbility, and assuming more comfortable in accessing services and so, you know as with all of the other programs and services. and and they did not mention the collaborativive that directly connects the community to the services. >> thank you. >> next speaker? >> and so, i did read part of
8:47 pm
the grand jury report, and so i wanted to make a few points about it and first off, yeah, i mean, that i do understand, the room for improvement but i also want to say echoing back what she just mentioned is that it is a really innovative model in the community and especially in our community, and i work with a lot of chinese and the new immigrants who do not really understand and know that there is you know, a code issues and there are housing codes, and they have rights to access to, for example, like he, and housing, and so, a lot of them, cultural and also a fear of retaliation, really inhibts them from wanting to report and call through to want to make a report about it. and so and at the same time, that i think for some of the owners in the community who don't speak english very well, when they see it and they hear about the governments and they are fearful and part of it is education to the owners and so for us having, in the community, working in the community, and i am having that
8:48 pm
relationship, and also, and in many ways, to having access to the buildings. and the second thing too, is in regards to kind of the notice of violations and backlog and inefficiencies, i would say that you know, even although, there were times that there were short staff, but i would say even during that time, there has been a priority and i know that i have worked with definitely has been made a priority to address the issues and made it a priority and emailed me back and contacted me back when we had issues and needed to follow up and all parties that were involved were really addressed and kind of kept in contact, and so, even in regards to the third thing that i want to say in regard to punitive, like, i would say, see the office and not a punitive model and it is really community building in part, the education in part for the land lords and also for the tenants too and also for the property managers, in the process i think that the people feel less
8:49 pm
intimidated and they feel it is a process that we are all striving for the same goals to achieve for better housing for the city. and the other thing too, is that i just wanted to mention a couple of examples, you know, in instances where i have had the situations where i have the clients that live in the buildings where the owners did not want to fix things, you know, when the building inspectors were involved, they were, you know, they not only, addressed some of the issues, but they were very good in terms of making it a speedy process. but everything too, in another building, where you know the owner did not actually realize that they had to, for example, apply for a permit for windows. and you know, the inspector actually through that process and through myself and through talking to the tenant really understood that there is a process in place and at least i know that there is a process i do know that you are looking forward to it and i want to say again, that it is a continued process for improvement. but, thank you. >> thank you, for your comments.
8:50 pm
>> good morning, still, commissioners, and so a short of the housing rights committee and we are also a enforcement out reach partner and i read the grand jury report, and something that struck me particularly was that, i know that it was a wholistic, i think investigation, and was meant to be that, but, what that meant was sort of a lot of department and programs that were locked together and so what i wanted to do was sort of draw out, the area that i know best, which is the housing inspection services, and their enforcement program, and in talk about why you know, some of the issues are really distinct. and actually are very the program itself is very effective in some of the ways that we heard from the speakers really participating with the community partner and not just the tenant groups that you see here but also with the landlord
8:51 pm
associations. and really trying to make it a program, that it is as she has seen not just about the penalty and sort of aggressive. and it is ramping up for his an important hammer and also, and the enforcement on the blighted and vacant properties and that, it did not focus as much on what it means for the residents, when the department of the building inspection is involved, in their case, and so from on the ground, perspective, we can say that, we have inspecters that are accessible and that communityive and responsive, and that get out there and understand, sort of the issues,
8:52 pm
of inha bitbility when it comes to the tenant and especially the low income residents that we often are working with. and that our biggest concern about the department really in recognizing how important those are and it is under resourced and i should say that the programs since i am trying to distinguish, and that, you know, one of the things that the report says is that there were 75 vacant positions. and it talks about the layoffs during the recession, and we definitely felt that impact. and that we do know now, the department is a little more flush, that being rectified and there is also a lack of staff and also speaks to the up grades that the report recommend as well and so in terms of the recommendations we fully agree with you know, more
8:53 pm
reporting to the commission, and stream lining but i think that really the inspectors have been doing a great job and with these additional resources they will only do better and so in terms of the housing inspection, services and the code enforcement, we think that they are an excellent model that actually goes above and beyond what we see in other parts of the country. thanks. >> just have one question for you, somebody who sees a lot of the issues notice of violations and so on, and one of the big lessons that i am learning is that there a lot of humans attached to this and the difficult and expediting them. i would not mind the comment, and because, i felt that the report does not really kind of address that. and it clearly points out that nothing is being done, but i know that a lot of these novs
8:54 pm
are human issues and the department has, especially the hands are tied and i will deal with that and the comment on that? >> i think that ideally it is a more of a negotiated process and that through the assistance of the community groups like ours and sometimes as i mentioned the department association, and etc., it really helps to sometimes take the time to sort of go in depth and look at, you know, what is behind the delay, whether it is the tenant actually has a hording and cluttering issue which is a mental health disability, for instance, and on the landlord's end of it and there are financial crisis there or a lack of understanding about the codes or the permit processes someone else mentioned. and that often times, there needs to be some sort of hand holding and you know, working more closely with both party to get the issue resolved and it
8:55 pm
is not just a matter if you were to ramp this up and be harder then everything will get resolved more quickly and you know, effectively and you know, sometimes that works in the reverse and it is case by case, sometimes believe me some of these land lords, that is what needs to happen. it is more of again, the hammer. but we have plenty of cases that given the time to really work with both parties on our end, particularly to work with the residents who may be fearful of their landlord but are not allowing them to come in and do repairs, for instance, where we have seen the cases like that and all sorts of glitchs that happen because of the human interaction and the human component. >> yeah. thank you so much. for all of our community groups for coming in who really help us in resolving these issues, just this morning, when we were discussing one of the issues that has been going since 2009, these groups have never been
8:56 pm
brought in. we need to utilize these groups and the program and the code enforcement out reach program and the sro collaborativives, both. and they are perfect, at dealing with these human aspects and the issues of the things that get in the way of the resolution. and so, i think that it is a prime example, and the testimony supports it that we need to really use these, and provide more support, funding, person, power, to these organizations for these outstanding notice of violations and the report does focus more on the issues that we do have a problem with and we have a long list of blighted
8:57 pm
properties, unfortunately, often times there is nobody in them, and so it is harder to deal with, on the one hand, and then on the other hand, it is easier to deal with because you can come in with a hammer. but, and i think that we have the code enforcement out reach program that deals with the multiple unit buildings, and the sro collaborative that deal with the single room, occupantcy hotels, and sometimes, single family homes, that are rented, i mean, there is a lot of the problems that are on the long, outstanding list, that just fallout outside of the priorities, i suppose with these programs. and so, i hope that our response to the department in the commission can include more partnership opportunities with you all. >> and if i may, i mean the report focused much on you know, the number of cases closed. and i think that is actually missing the point a bit and in the case for 308 turk, just the
8:58 pm
fact that there were so many notice of violations that there were director hearings that has been clearly documented that that is really helpful and even, getting if for instance, the coverage of the story and getting movement from the landlord to take care of the problem so it is not just, you know, what actually we can count as abatement that is important. it is also, the documentation and the record of there are problems in this building and it helps to bring that to light and put the pressure on the parties responsible for fixing the matter. >> commissioner lee. >> these are the kind of data and documentation that you mentioned that are actually missing from our reports. and from what was reported, of open novs. and i think that that incorporating some of these human issues in the data would probably help. but besides just say, saying, or doing what commissioner walker says about having the organization come in, and in the beginning, to help to resolve the issues, and maybe
8:59 pm
we ought to look at the entire nov process. as a whole. and see how we can change it, how we can say, this has to be done at a certain point. and maybe, if the problem, is like you said, a human issue, maybe there should be a suspension of the nov until that human issue is resolved. i don't know. i am just bringing it up as a possible discussion item that we should look at the entire nov process and maybe, that will help us to solve and get our data done correctly. and then we will know what we are doing right and wrong. >> commissioner mar? >> yeah. i just wanted to say, thank you, to our partners for coming and one of the things that i have always said is whenever you guys come you don't come enough. >> that is a little bit, maybe, more than we should... i would like to put that request out again, and because i think that to echo what commissioner lee said is that you are part of
9:00 pm
our data too. and you should be, because you are part of an extension of our department's work. so, when you go out and just talk to the tenants and talk to a land lords and get something resolved before the nov is issued, that should be a plus. you see, we don't see that, you know, we don't see, we don't see the novs that were never issued. now i actually do agree that we could do better once the nov is issued to resolve it. we could be a little faster, like maybe other parts of the city. we could be a little faster on the way we work. but, the way that you guys do is actually a little bit even before the nov and i think that we need to capture and we want to capture that information. >> and i think that the
left
right